LONDONDERRY — A local nonprofit celebrated 25 years of accomplishments during a special celebration at the N.H. Aviation Museum on Saturday evening.
Community Caregivers of Greater Derry, located in the Derry Masonic Temple, has proven a godsend for area seniors struggling to maintain their independence.
Around 90 volunteers, clients and staff members attended Saturday’s festivities, which included a catered meal, museum tours and a walk down memory lane.
Volunteers assist their homebound clients with rides to medical appointments, household chores and anything else they might happen to need.
Caregivers also runs a “Loaner’s Closet,” which lends and sometimes donates medical equipment like wheelchairs, crutches, shower chairs and hospital beds.
“It’s hard to believe it all began in one room in a Londonderry office park,” Executive Director Cindee Tanuma said, noting that at one time the organization’s headquarters consisted of one small room with two part-time staff members.
These days the Caregivers have five employees who oversee some 400 or so volunteers. Tanuma said she has approximately 300 clients in seven towns: Derry, Londonderry, Windham, Sandown, Chester, Hampstead and Danville.
Over the past 2½ decades, Community Caregivers has driven more than a million miles and provided 100,000 hours of service to more than 1,700 area seniors, organization officials said.
“We treat all of them like an extension of our family,” Tanuma said. “That’s what we’re all about.”
Derry resident Rod Pierce said he’s been volunteering since retiring from his sales career about six years ago.
A former air traffic controller, Pierce said he jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand.
“I just wanted to give back,” he said.
On most weeks, Pierce assists two clients with rides to the doctor or to pick up groceries, but at times he takes on additional duties when there’s a need.
“It’s a good feeling to help someone else,” he said. “We’re all going to get there one day, and there could come a day when I’ll be the one needing help.”
Brenda Foley, a pediatrician with Pentucket Medical Associates in nearby Massachusetts, said she learned about the Caregivers shortly after moving to Derry six years ago.
During a visit to Derry Fest, Foley stopped by the Caregivers booth where she chatted with volunteers and staff members. She was immediately intrigued.
“My kids were getting older and I wasn’t volunteering at the schools anymore,” she said, noting that as a working professional, the extreme flexibility offered to Community Caregivers volunteers also appealed to her.
“I can’t always spend hours volunteering, but it’s really not a big deal to do an extra load of laundry,” she said.
“It’s a nice feeling to be able to help empower someone,” Foley added.
Vincent Smith, chairman of the Community Caregivers board of directors, said there’s a constant need for additional volunteers as the organization continues to grow.
“We’re getting more clients,” he said, noting that just several years ago the nonprofit began serving Danville. “There will always be a demand for these types of services.”firstname.lastname@example.org